The Whimsical Illustrations of Aelva Mackintoshby
I don’t remember when I first met Aelva Mackintosh. I know I was living in Olympia, WA attending The Evergeen State College. Living either in the Deer Run Apartments, a shabby little complex not far from campus. Nothing in town was far from campus. At the time, I was a pissed-off confused kid who wanted more than anything to write for a living and had no idea how to make that happen.
For some time, Aelva dated a dear friend of mine, and once while some classmates and I were producing our first poetry reading at some dim dive-bar/news stand downtown, I asked her if she could illustrate a flier for our show. I wanted a drawing of Jesse Owens kicking Hitler in the ass. I thought she’d balk at the idea, but instead she just drew it and turned it over. At a time when my friends and I were trying to find our own voices and find ways to make ourselves valuable to an audience, Aelva was already making art that was only hers. I can look at her linework from anywhere in the past twenty years and know immediately who drew it.
In 2011, I took my first trip back to Seattle and Olympia since leaving Evergreen. I met Aelva for brunch at Darby’s, and she was feeling nervous and awkward. To comfort herself, she sketched as we chatted, creating a java monster whose snout poured coffee into the mug resting on its kitchen table. A print of that sketch hangs in my own kitchen. Since then, Aelva has drawn the cover ant spot illustrations for my short story collection, a commissioned Christmas card, and the cover illustration for WisCon’s souvenir book. (Since the convention was canceled this year in favor of an online con, Aelva’s illustration will appear on next year’s souvenir book.)
The thing that strikes me most about Aelva’s art is that she and I on the surface have very different personalities and aesthetics, but when I see her art–the colors, the shading–I feel a sense of recognition, almost as if we have both explored the same imagined geography.
I’m thrilled every time I see new work from her, and I’m pleased to share these pieces with a wider audience.
Aelva Mackintosh is fond of stories of witchery and fantastical places. In her early years she would especially delight in navigating the curling paths of text adventure games and geeking out on Dungeons and Dragons tomes. All grown up now, she resides in a forested corner of the Pacific Northwest with her smol feathered familiar, Kalliopy.